New Jersey Truck Driver Inattention / Distracted Driving
Written by: Brach Eichler Injury Lawyers Last Updated : February 2, 2022

New Jersey Truck Driver Inattention/Distracted Driving Accident Attorneys

Were you injured in a truck accident by a distracted driver? If so, you may be entitled to compensation for losses and injuries you suffered as a result of that driver’s inattention. The New Jersey truck accident attorneys at Brach Eichler Injury Lawyers have helped many truck accident victims get the help they deserve.

It’s not just cell phones that distract drivers. Drivers trying to light a cigarette, eating, or reaching for a beverage are not giving the road and other vehicles their full attention. This is dangerous for any driver, but if the distracted one is driving a commercial 18-wheeler or tractor-trailer, the results can be devastating or even deadly for others on the road.

When you trust the attorneys at Brach Eichler Injury Lawyers to take your distracted driving case, we don’t rest until you get the justice you deserve. You can take the time you need to recover from your injuries knowing that your case is in experienced hands.

Call us today at (973) 364-8300. We work hard for victims who have suffered at the hands of truck drivers who weren’t paying attention or were distracted, and we want to help you, too.

Sources of Inattention or Distractions in Truck Driver Accidents

Driver inattention and distracted driving accidents are completely preventable. Commercial truck drivers have a responsibility to give 100% of their attention to driving. They pilot extremely large vehicles, often carrying hundreds of pounds of cargo. Any crash can become a deadly one, particularly if a smaller passenger vehicle is involved.

Some common sources of driver inattention or distraction include:

  • Any cell phone communication
  • Checking GPS devices or in-cab display screens
  • Using a dispatching device
  • Eating or drinking
  • Smoking
  • Changing radio stations
  • Being distracted by something outside, such as billboards

It’s important to note that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has banned commercial truck drivers from using any hand-held mobile devices. This includes even reaching for the device. Commercial truck drivers are only allowed to engage in hands-free communications that can be conducted with one-button operation or voice activation.

The FMCSA also notes that commercial truck drivers who become distracted when dialing a mobile phone are six times more likely to drift into another lane or cause a crash or near-crash. In those few distracted seconds, they can travel about the length of a football field while driving 55 mph – all with their eyes off the road. A study conducted in 2009 found that truck driver distraction was a factor in 71 percent of crashes involving large trucks.

If a distracted truck driver tries to overcorrect when carrying cargo, that load can shift or become unstable, which can also lead to an accident. Accidents involving large commercial trucks are particularly dangerous due to truck size and weight.

That is why it is important for you to get expert legal help from attorneys who handle these types of large truck accidents in New Jersey all the time. At Brach Eichler Injury Lawyers, we know how to gather the facts and evidence from cell phone records, on-board computers, accident scene photos, and other sources to get you the best results possible for your injuries and losses.

Some Statistics

Unfortunately, there has been a 43 percent increase in fatal crashes involving large trucks from 2010-2019. In New Jersey, truck crash fatalities rose 50% between 2010 and 2019.

Any truck with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or more is defined as a medium or heavy truck. The FMSCA defines a commercial motor vehicle as “a vehicle that is used as part of a business and is involved in interstate commerce,” meeting any of these criteria:

  • 10,001+ pounds, or gross vehicle or combination weight rating of same
  • Can transport 16 or more passengers and driver (no compensation)
  • Can transport nine or more passengers and driver (with compensation)
  • Transports hazardous materials requiring notification/warning placards

Drivers of these vehicles are to comply with FMSCA-mandated “hours of service” rules that dictate how many hours drivers can be on duty. Drivers must also take a rest break within a specific period of driving. Any driver not following these rules could be more prone to being distracted or inattentive, which could lead to an accident.

Even with improved safety technology on newer commercial vehicles, driver inattention continues to play a significant role in accidents. It’s important that truck drivers and the companies that employ them fully understand the possible tragic consequences of distracted or inattentive driving.

Proving that the driver was distracted or not paying attention is crucial to you getting the financial award you deserve for your injuries or losses. The attorneys at Brach Eichler Injury Lawyers are experts when it comes to securing the evidence and proof to build the best case and get you the justice you deserve – and the compensation you need to recover and rebuild your life.

What to Do After an Accident with a Distracted or Inattentive Truck Driver

After an accident, you should keep or request certain records to give you the best chances of a successful insurance claim or to help your attorneys build the best case for recovery. Some of these records include:

  • Accident report. An officer called to the scene of your accident should have written a report and provided you with a copy.
  • Truck driver information. You should have the large truck driver’s name and contact information, as well as the name of the company that employs him or who owns the truck. You should have insurance information for both the driver and the company.
  • Witness statements. The officer on the scene should have interviewed any witnesses to the accident. The statements should include witness identification and contact information.
  • Accident scene photos. Photos should include damage to any and all vehicles, where the vehicles ended up, road debris, and any skid marks or tire patterns from vehicles involved in the accident.
  • Your medical reports. This includes any paramedic and ambulance records, emergency room visits, radiographs, and lab tests, and any follow-up medical care, including any necessary physical therapy.

Of course, if you were injured and required an ambulance ride to an emergency room or hospital, you may not have these records or know how to get them now. The experienced attorneys at Brach Eichler Injury Lawyers know how to gather the records necessary for a strong case. Your job is to focus on healing and recovery; their job is to put together your best possible case.

New Jersey Injury Claim Laws

As a crash victim in New Jersey, you will typically have to file a claim with your own insurance company before pursuing a claim against the truck driver you believe to be at fault for your accident. Your policy contains Personal Injury Protection (PIP), a no-fault insurance that should cover some of your medical expenses and lost wages or home care, regardless of who is at fault in the accident. Filing this claim won’t affect your premium. However, it may not be enough coverage for your losses, and it won’t cover pain and suffering.

Other insurance benefits you receive will depend on your policy. Minimum limits under New Jersey law may not be sufficient; you may deserve additional compensation for:

  • Additional medical bills your insurance doesn’t cover
  • Pain and suffering and mental/emotional trauma
  • Property damage
  • Lost income and necessary in-home care services
  • Permanent impairment or disfigurement
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Death benefits for immediate family members in the event of death

You may decide you want to file a claim against the truck driver or the company that hired them. This is where hiring attorneys experienced in large truck accidents is a good idea, as they can help you prove negligence on the part of the driver or their employer.

For example, the company may not have conducted a thorough background check or provided the driver with adequate training. If the company was negligent in their hiring practices, you may be entitled to compensation from its liability insurance policy. In many cases, a skilled attorney like those at Brach Eichler Injury Lawyers can settle with the trucking company’s insurance company without ever going to trial.

Modified Comparative Negligence

New Jersey law states that the insurance company will investigate the accident to determine how much fault for the accident is assigned to each driver. That degree of fault is called “comparative negligence.” With “modified comparative negligence” you may lose the chance to recover any damages if the adjuster, or a jury, determines you are more than 50% responsible for the accident. If your responsibility is 50% or lower, the awarded damages are adjusted accordingly.

For example, if the adjuster determines you are 40% to blame for driving too fast in wet conditions and your total damages are $100,000, your eligible award is $100,000 minus 40%, or $60,000. You can see how you would benefit from having an experienced attorney to help argue which party is rightfully at fault.

Contact an Experienced New Jersey Truck Accident Attorney

The attorneys at Brach Eichler Injury Lawyers understand the trauma and confusion victims feel following a devastating accident with a large truck. You deserve compensation when an accident is caused by a commercial truck driver’s distraction or inattention, and we will work hard to get you that justice and to help you get your life back.

Call us today at (973) 364-8300 for a free consultation. We want to fight for you.

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